By Citizen Reporter
The Director of Nuclear Safety in the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, NNRA, Dr Martin Ogharandukun, is in trouble for allegedly making himself Acting Director-General of the Authority. The law setting-up NNRA, the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995 Part 111, 8 (1) vests the power of appointing a Director-General for the Authority on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On May 31, 2011 Dr Ogharandukun allegedly made himself Acting Director-General/CEO of NNRA after a management meeting and proceeded to change the signatories to the authority’s accounts to include his name. He also posted on the authority’s website (www.nnra.gov.ng) that the management of NNRA has appointed him the Acting DG/CEO pending the appointment of a substantive DG and went ahead to change the authority’s letter headed papers to reflect his new “appointment”. He has since then been allegedly carrying out the full functions and duties of an Acting DG/CEO of the Authority awarding contracts and approving payments. His action has already attracted the attention of a human rights/good governance group, Human Rights and Accountability Initiative (HURAIN) which has already written him over the matter.
The vacancy for DG in NNRA arose following the retirement of the pioneer Director-General, Professor S. B. Elegba, who served two five-year terms as Director-General from 2001 to 2011. He handed over to Mr Bulus Yabaya, the then Director of Administration and Finance, who acted from April, 2011 till he died of alleged food poisoning on May 27, 2011. It is a known fact that some management staff of the Authority attended a send off dinner for the then outgoing DG at a popular event centre in Abuja.Members of staff were surprised to hear that Yabaya died few days after the dinner of alleged food poisoning.Yabaya’s family protested over the alleged food poisoning but no one could help them because nobody has been accused of serving him the food.
Any way,the conditions for what is called “acting appointments” are in Section 6 of the Public Service Rules, PSR, and clearly spelt out in Rules 020601, 020602, 020603, 020605 and 020606. Under these Rules, the Federal Civil Service Commission must be notified and the appointment gazetted with the dates of commencement and cessation of the acting appointment clearly stated. These conditions were allegedly not followed. Furthermore, under Rule 020604, such an acting appointment must not exceed six months.
But Dr Ogharandukun has been acting since May 31, 2011 to date – for over 10 months. He has also been collecting the allowance of an Acting DG/CEO of the Authority.During this period, sources say, he has been lobbying to be confirmed as DG. The NNRA enabling law, Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995, Part 111, 8 (2) states: “The Director-General shall be a person of proven integrity and shall have such qualifications and practical experience in the application of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation in science and technology, nuclear safety and radiation process”.
Dr Ogharandukun is said to have specialized in Solid State Physics, not Nuclear Physics, nor Radiation Protection. On November, 17, 2011 Dr Ogharandukun as Acting DG sent a letter of congratulations to many prominent persons who won the National Honours Award including the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was conferred with the award of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON. In the letter, he wrote: “The Award is an attestation of your intelligence, dedication and profound selflessness in the service of the nation. The Transformative actions you have taken in the Oil and Gas Industry is vindication of our belief that, putting right caliber of people in the right place could turn things around in our great country, We in the NNRA are always proud and appreciative of your worthy and distinguished leadership and are pleased you been so acknowledged. Once again, congratulations”. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources is the supervising ministry for NNRA.
A Similar scenario also played itself out also as a Deputy Director, Mr Akim Bakreen followed the footsteps of the acting DG by making himself the Acting Director of Administration and Finance of NNRA since June, 2011.He too has allegedly included his name as a signatory to NNRA accounts. He is also said to have been illegally receiving the allowance of an Acting Director and illegally remaining in acting capacity over the stipulated six months.
So far no one in the Authority can confirm the acting DG’s true status.The only source of confirmation is the statement on the website of NNRA where it was announced that “the management of NNRA has appointed Martin Ogharandukum (Ph.D) as Acting Director General/CEO pending the appointment of a substantive DG/CEO”.
Insiders however say this acting DG who simply grabbed the office by himself without presidential approval has over stayed the legal terms.These revelations coming after the Nuclear Summit in Seoul may not augur well for Nigeria’s image.But those who know say the least they expect is for President Goodluck Jonathan to do the right thing and appoint a new DG.
Others argue as well that the tenure of this ‘illegal acting DG’ should also be investigated since he is known to have made himself one of the signatories to the Authority’s account and receiving acting DG’s allowance.The anti corruption agencies may need to look into the books of the agency.
For now,’ the place is like a minefield of tension.People are agitated ,there is a growing police state kind of environment as agents of the illegal acting DG are said to be reporting whoever is known to be kicking against him.So the tension there is really palpable’ said an insider.
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